Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

Hannah Nadeau CJ 1010 Term Paper 11/21/12 As the criminal justice system has developed into a relatively uniform,

somewhat predictable system in American society, the police organization within that system has constantly been evolving to become more efficient and productive. Because college education has become a requirement for many other fields of work, some departments now require some at least some college experience or a bachelors degree in order to become employed as a basic uniformed officer on patrol. Although requiring a college education may have some negative results, officers with college education have the potential to increase the credibility, effectiveness, and prestige of the American police force. College education first became a major discussion point with the release of the Report on Police in 1973. The Report on Police stated that college education has the potential to provide a significantly more professional and respected police force. The report also cited a 1972 study which found that men with at least one year of college were excellent performers and had fewer civilian complaints and lower instances of misconduct on the job (National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals). Since the release of the Report on Police, further analysis and studies have been done to further assess of the need a police education requirement. In 2004, an in-depth analysis of the influence of police education was completed. It found that, for the most part, the conclusions of the Report on Police still held true. Police officers with at least some college educationbut preferably a bachelors degreetend to perform better in the academy, have lower rates of absenteeism, receive fewer injuries on the job, receive less disciplinary action, are more reliable, are respected by citizens, and have a broader understanding of social issues (Roberg & Scott).

In addition to better overall performance, several specific areas of law enforcement are benefited when their officers have a college education. In community policing, because of the substantial need for officers to understand social situations, think critically, and solve problems, officers with a higher education level seem to be suited well for successful community policing. Furthermore, because of the need for global issues such as terrorism to be addressed by all areas of law enforcement, college education provides a way for officers to successfully monitor their jurisdiction for terrorism risks because of the knowledge they have gained regarding social, civil, and global issues. College educated officers also have the ability to successfully respond to these issues in a professional manner (Roberg & Scott). Despite the benefits of a college education, there are some negative results of college education within a police department. It has been theorized that those with college educations are more likely be conflicted between working in the upper levels of police management versus working as a uniformed officer. Because the uniformed division is typically the starting point for law enforcement officers, those with a college education may become frustrated as they work with people who are less educated then they are, but receive the same pay. However, those same officers would also be dissatisfied working in upper level management because they prefer to work directly with the public (Swanson, 1977). Additional problems are seen when a college education becomes a requirement for employment. Requiring a college education is often seen by departments as too risky because it opens them up to the potential of discrimination lawsuits. The primary basis for this is that women and minorities are less likely to have a college degree, or be able to afford a college education. By requiring all applicants to have a college degree, police departments would indirectly be discriminating against women and minorities, which could provide substantial grounds for a lawsuit (Roberg & Scott).

Swanson presented a way to potentially mitigate these flaws with police officer education through what he termed a skill hierarchy. This would essentially provide a way for everyone to be promoted equally by requiring that a certain skill set be achieved and maintained as they progress through a skill hierarchy and pay grades. If an individual would like to be promoted to a higher rank, they must meet a set of skills specific to that rank. However, if they prefer to stay in a uniformed position, yet still increase in pay, they can meet those same skill requirements and receive a pay raise (Swanson). This also could allow those with a higher education to receive pay equal to their education level while in a uniformed position but the departments would avoid potential discrimination lawsuits by not requiring a degree to be employed. A common criticism of the college educated police officer is that although they have the book knowledge to do their job, they do not have the practical field knowledge which is necessary to work with the public effectively. Payne, Sumter, and Sun recommend that field experience should be incorporated into criminal justice education programs in the form of field trips, ride-alongs, and guest speakers in order for students to receive some practical knowledge as they gain an associates or bachelors degree (2003). Baro and Burlingame suggest that perhaps other negative aspects of police education could be further mitigated by providing police specific education. Rather than requiring a college degree, police departments could offer specific training intended to further develop the police force in specific areas, without mandating the comprehensive education required by a bachelors degree. This would allow each police force to target areas where their police force is lacking, providing a way for them to develop a better rounded rounded police force that can meet the challenges of Americas changing professional dynamics (1999). However, their conclusion still suggests that some element of higher learning is necessary.

Because of the profound positive benefits of police education, it is logical to assume that police officers today do indeed need a college education to professionally respond to the changing dynamics in American policing. It appears that requiring, or at least recommending that all officers have at least a bachelors degree in order to be hired can increase the productivity and prestige of any police organization at any level. While it may be beneficial for higher ranking police officers to have higher levels of education, such as masters degrees, it appears that a bachelors degree is sufficient at this point in the evolution of American force. If bachelors degrees were to be more widely recommended or required, it would be necessary to adjust the pay scales for police officers, perhaps by starting them off at higher pay grades and allowing them to be promoted faster. Of course, they would have to have a certain amount of experience in order to ensure that they actually have the field knowledge necessary to be a successful leader in the world of law enforcement. Although there is no question that officers with no education beyond a high school diploma are clearly able to be successful officers, a bachelors degree provides the base education necessary to enable any officer of any rank to think critically, professionally, and successfully respond to social factors in a way that they may not be able to do without a college education. In addition, any criticisms of a college educated police officer can be successfully mitigated. Americas police force can only be benefited by requiring higher education or providing pay incentives for those with college degrees. Because a college education offers significant social benefits for individual officers, the department, and community which that department serves, police officers should have a college education in order to fulfill their duties to society. Bibliography

United States. Report on police. National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals. (1973). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Roberg, R., & Scott, B. (2004). Higher education and policing: Where are we now?. Policing: An international journal of police strategies and management, 27(4), 469-486. Swanson, C. R. (1977). An uneasy look at college education and the police organization. Journal of criminal justice, 5, 311-320. Payne, B. K., Sumter, M., & Sun, I. (2003). Bringing the field into the criminal justice classroom: Field trips, ride-alongs, and guest speakers. Journal of criminal justice education, 14(2), 327-344. Baro, A., & Burlingame, D. (1999). Law enforcement and higher education: Is there an impasse. Journal of criminal justice education, 10(1), 57-73.